All My Children
Airs Weekdays at 1:00 a.m. & 2:00 a.m. ET/PT
Opal Cortlandt on the ABC Television Network's "All My Children"
Jill Larson joined the cast of "All My Children" as wild, wacky and flamboyant Opal Gardner Purdy Cortlandt in 1989. Her performance earned her two daytime Emmy Award nominations (1991 and 1993) as Outstanding Supporting Actress.
Ms. Larson grew up in Minnesota with her three sisters, their aerospace engineer father and interior decorator mother, along with the ever-colorful and entertaining anecdotes of their grandfather who, among his many professions, was a carnival barker, volunteer fireman and horse wrangler.
Ms. Larson's passion for acting became apparent quite early in life. As a child she performed in the living rooms and basements of friends, family and neighbors and was soon landing roles in summer stock theater productions. She then started to produce her own plays and began working professionally at the world-renowned Children's Theater Company, where she was one of only two children among its founding members. During her five years with the company, she recalls one of her fondest memories as being at an appearance on a talk show (promoting a play) where she met Tony Bennett and sat on his lap.
She enrolled at the University of Minnesota and began singing in nightclubs with a group called Just Us. It wasn't long before Just Us was discovered and headed to New York City, where they recorded several soundtracks, including the one for the film "Rachel, Rachel," starring Joanne Woodward.
Ms. Larson, however, decided it was time to see the world. She and her sister traveled throughout Europe in a VW bus, before she settled in Paris as an au pair. She became a model and was soon appearing in major fashion spreads in America's and Europe's top magazines, including Mademoiselle, Marie Claire and Vingt Ans. While in Paris she also landed her first film role (as a Swedish au pair) in "Deadly Trap," starring Faye Dunaway and Frank Langella. Her next film role was as Jeanne Moreau's rival for her character's younger lover in the film "Chere Louise."
Her desire to pursue acting more consistently prompted her to move to New York City. At that time she also decided to enroll at Hunter College, first majoring in economics and later switching to communications and theater.
After graduation Ms. Larson joined Circle in the Square Professional Theater Workshop, where she worked with fellow students Ken Olin and Kevin Bacon, among others. Her acting r�sum� filled up with roles on and off-Broadway. Her Broadway credits include "Death and the King's Horseman," written and directed by Nobel Prize laureate Wole Soyinka, "Romantic Comedy" and "Dancing in the End Zone." Off-Broadway and at the nation's top regional theaters, she starred in "Agnes of God," "Gypsy," "The Glass Menagerie," "Private Lives" and "The Tempest," among others. Ms. Larson is also a founding member and President of GLM Productions, through which she produced the off-Broadway revue, "Serious Business," and co-produced the student Academy Award-nominated documentary film, "Gibbs Garden," a profile of a painter with AIDS.
Ms. Larson garnered more film and television roles, with her early forays generally as a sight gag, among them as the memorable frenetic disco dancer alongside Joe Piscopo on "Saturday Night Live," a tall skinny wife to a fat wrestler in Piscopo's film, "Wise Guys," and a stint on "David Letterman." Other television parts followed, including guest appearances on "Kate and Allie," "The Equalizer," and the ABC after-school special "Over the Limit."
In 1986, she made her Daytime television debut as bitchy TV columnist Judith Clayton on "As the World Turns" and, in 1988, she played psychotic kidnapper Ursula Blackwell on ABC's "One Life to Live."
While playing Opal, Ms. Larson has also appeared in "Dearly Departed" at New York's Second Stage Theater, "The Lost Dreams and Hidden Frustration of Every Woman in Brooklyn," at the Soho Rep Theater, "Hysterical Blindness," directed by Jared Harris, and "Riders to the Sea," by John Millington Synge. Other film roles include "White Squall," starring Jeff Bridges, and "Vertical City."
A journey to Shanghai in June 1996 led Ms. Larson to her greatest joy of all, the adoption of her beautiful daughter, Anni-Ming. She and Anni-Ming live in Manhattan and spend weekends at their country home in Pennsylvania. In addition to playing with Anni-Ming, she also enjoys anything relating to food, as well as home improvement-type projects. She also loves arts and crafts, which she most enjoys sharing with her many nieces, nephews, her godchild and, of course, with Anni-Ming.
Ms. Larson still finds time to volunteer at the 52nd Street Project, which helps inner-city youths get started in theater by encouraging their writing and performance talent.